We come to the
sixth chapter of the Book of Joshua. This chapter contains the
story of the capture of the city of Jericho, and is one more
chapter in the story of the greatness and glory of the Lord Jesus
as represented by the ark of the covenant. You will notice that
the ark is the most conspicuous thing in this story, for it is
mentioned eight times in the chapter. We will not make much of
that number, but perhaps you know that the number eight in the
Bible is the symbol of resurrection, and in this chapter we are
over Jordan and on resurrection ground.
then, represents the great transition from one ground to another,
and it very powerfully represents the new ground of resurrection
life. An impressive thing is that it marks a big change in the
life of God's own people - not the change from not being God's
people to becoming God's people, but a great transition in the
life of His people.
We look back to
the ground which they had already held. They had had an
experience of redemption from the world and the prince of this
world, for Egypt represents the power of this world in which
these people were at one time, but by the power of God they had
been separated from that world and its power. Most of you know
the story of the great deliverance of Israel from Egypt, and the
one point upon which we will put our finger is the completeness
of that separation according to the mind of God. Note that it is
according to God's mind. The whole of His mind did not
become actual in them, but here is God's mind, which was, and
still is, that His people shall be absolutely separated from the
power of this world.
illustrated for us by the ten judgments which God poured upon the
Egyptians. Time after time God struck tremendous blows at that
which tried to keep His people in bondage. At last that great
power began to weaken, and tried to get the people on to the
ground of compromise. Pharaoh said: 'Just go three days' journey
into the wilderness.' He meant: 'Don't go altogether out of my
reach. Don't put too great a distance between yourselves and my
power.' But the Lord said: 'No! None of that!' And then Pharaoh
said: 'Well, let the men go and leave the women and children
behind.' I don't know what kind of men Pharaoh thought they were,
but the Lord knew what kind of man Pharaoh was, and He said: 'No!
I will not have one single hoof of one single animal left in
Egypt.' The mind of the Lord was absolute separation from this
world and its authority. There was the great care of the Lord for
these people. He had said to Moses: 'I have heard the cry of My
people and have seen their distress.'
The Lord's desire
to have His people completely separated is because He loves them.
I think a lot of people, especially young people, have the idea
that this teaching about separation is something that is not very
happy. You have to give up the world, and you have to give up
this... that... and the other thing. If you come out to be the
Lord's people you are going to lose a lot. But this separation of
Israel was an expression of the Lord's love and care for them.
Our deliverance from this world and its power is because God
loves us: and He wanted to give His people something better than
ever they had had in Egypt.
Now you ask any
true Christian about this and hear what they have to say! 'Yes,
we as the Lord's people have really had to suffer many things.
The way has not always been easy, and sometimes it has been very
hard, but if you ask us whether we would rather have the world
than the Lord and what He has given us, we would have no
hesitation in giving you an answer. The Lord's love for us means
more than anything else.'
Here, then, you
have the mind of the Lord, the love of the Lord, and then you
have the power of the Lord. It is a mighty thing that the Lord
has done to make us His people!
Now let it be
understood that we shall never get very far until this complete
separation has been made. We have to remember that this is the
way that the Lord Jesus went. He has gone right through all the
difficulties, the sufferings and the sorrows, to the Father in
glory, and the Father has filled Him with His heavenly fullness.
The Father has answered His prayer. The Lord Jesus had prayed:
"Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory
which I had with thee before the world was" (John 17:5), and
that prayer has been fully answered. But on what ground was that
We have to go back
to that temptation of the Lord Jesus in the wilderness. The
prince of this world (that was the Lord's own name for Satan. He
said "the prince of this world cometh" - John 14:30)
came to Him and showed Him all the kingdoms of this world and
said to Him: "All these things will I give thee, if thou
wilt fall down and worship me. Then saith Jesus unto him, Get
thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord
thy God, and him only shalt thou serve" (Matthew 4:9,10).
Jesus refused all the kingdoms of this world at the hands of
Satan, and got them at the hands of His Father. Jesus fought this
fundamental battle with the prince of this world. He refused to
acknowledge Satan and his claims. It was a complete break with
the prince of this world, and because of that He could go through
to the glory.
Now Israel was
called upon to take that position. That was the mind of God for
them, but they failed to live up to it in the wilderness.
Although they were positionally out of Egypt, they were not out
conditionally. Or we can put that in another way: they were
positionally out of Egypt, but Egypt was not out of them, so in
the wilderness they failed to reach God's full mind for them.
Are you beginning
to see the meaning of Jericho? They had come through the Jordan
on to a new ground, and that new ground had come into them. It
was the new ground of perfect harmony with the mind of God, and
the first thing on the new ground was Jericho. Jericho was the
full embodiment of this perfect purpose of God.
What is the
dominant number of Jericho? It is number seven. You notice that
Jericho was the gateway to the seven nations that were going to
be overthrown. Then it was seven priests who were to take up the
ark - that is, who were to take up the testimony of the greatness
and glory of Christ. These seven priests were to have seven
trumpets. Every one of them had a trumpet. This was a band of
seven instruments. They were to go round Jericho seven times -
once every day, but on the seventh day they were to go round
seven times. You see what a prominent place this number seven
had? Seven nations, seven priests, seven trumpets, seven days,
and seven times on the seventh day.
Of course, a lot
of you know the meaning of Bible numbers. I only have to remind
you that seven is the number of what is spiritually complete, the
fullness of what is spiritual. It is spiritual life from the
dead. and is the fullness of spiritual power by resurrection. The
ark here is the testimony to Christ's full victory and dominion.
You see, everything in this story is at a discount except the
ark. The only thing that is in power here is the ark. You may say
that these seven nations are very strong. but before the ark they
are as nothing. This ark is going to lead the way to a complete
victory over them all. The greatness and the glory of the Lord
Jesus makes everything else as nothing.
Look at the
people! And look at what they were told to do and what they were
told not to do! I wonder what any general would say today if you
told him to go to war like this! If you said: 'Now, look, here is
this nation that you have to overcome', or 'Here are seven
nations that you have to overcome. All you have to do is just to
walk round quietly and blow your little trumpets. You do not have
to draw any sword or fire one shot. You just go walking round
quietly and let seven men blow trumpets. After you have done this
for one week just shout, and it is all over.' I am glad that you
smile, for it is so ridiculous, is it not? Perhaps some of the
people on the wall of Jericho just looked down and laughed at
these people, saying: 'Well, you just go on walking round for
ever. Nothing will happen!'
What I am trying
to say is this. This is a picture of human weakness, of human
foolishness, of human nothingness. Do you remember what Paul said
to the Corinthians? "God chose the foolish things of the
world... the weak things... the things that are despised... and
the things that are not, that he might bring to nought the things
that are" (1 Corinthians 1:27,28). Everything here at
Jericho speaks of that human weakness and foolishness... at
least, everything but one thing - and that was the ark. The ark
was a symbol of the greatness and glory of Christ, and Christ is
perfectly capable of overthrowing all the other powers in this
But before I come
to the conclusion, let me emphasize one thing. Before that ark
could manifest its power the Lord's people had to be on special
ground, what is called in the New Testament 'heavenly ground'.
This spiritual separation from the power of this world is
essential to know the power of Christ. We have pointed out that
the passage of the Jordan represented a separation from all
self-sufficiency, and a standing on the ground where Christ, and
Christ only, is our life and our sufficiency. This truth runs
right through the New Testament. The Apostle Paul said:
"Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my weaknesses,
that the power of Christ may rest upon me" (1 Corinthians
12:9). That is the great principle in the New Testament Christian
life. The Lord has to empty us of our own self-strength. Before
ever He can fill us with His strength He has to empty us of our
own wisdom and make us feel that we are very foolish people, in
order that His wisdom may be manifested in our lives. He has to
bring us to nothing in order that He may be everything. That is
the meaning of Jericho. This is laid down as the foundation of
the whole conquest of the land. If you are uncertain of that, you
will soon see that if they just departed from that principle they
were defeated. For the power, the greatness and the glory of
Christ to rest upon us we must have no power, no greatness and no
glory of our own.
Do not make any
mistake about it. This is not a negative life. It is only
negative where we in our own lives are concerned, but it is very
positive where the Lord is concerned, for it is a life of the
positive power of God.
I am going to
finish where I began: It is a matter of our absolute committal to
the Lord. In a gathering like this there are always four kinds of
people. There are those who have never come out of Egypt and
started on the way with the Lord, and we are very glad to have
unsaved people with us for often they get saved. That has
happened in more than one of these conferences, and I am told
that it has already happened in this conference - some who were
not on the road with Christ are now on that road. However, there
are still those who have not started on the road, who have not
given their lives to the Lord Jesus, and I hope that this
conference will not finish before they have done so. That is one
class of people.
A second class
contains those whose position is a mixture of Egypt and the
wilderness; I mean, a mixture of the world and Christianity. It
says in the twelfth chapter of the Book of Exodus: "The
children of Israel journeyed from Rameses to Succoth and a
mixed multitude went up also with them" (verses 37,
38). Apparently there had been mixed marriages, between the
Hebrews and the Egyptians, and these people who were neither one
thing nor the other went out with Israel. They were a multitude
of those who were neither one thing nor the other. They had some
of the world, and some of Christianity, and it may be that there
are some people like that here tonight.
Then there are
some belonging to a third class: those who have come out of
Egypt, or are out of the world, on the ground of the Blood of the
Lamb. They are the people who believe in the fundamentals of
Christianity. They believe that Jesus died for them and their
sins, that His precious Blood was shed for them, and that He is
their Saviour. They have accepted Him by faith, but that is as
far as they have got. They have just accepted the first things of
the life in Christ. They believe in all the truths about Him:
that He is the Divine Son of God, that He was born of the virgin
Mary, that He lived a perfect life on this earth, that He was
crucified and died, that He was raised from the dead, and that He
is coming again. They believe all those things - but they
believed them long years ago and have never moved further than
that. Israel were like that in the wilderness, and went on like
that for forty years. In effect, they just lived there for a
whole lifetime and never went on further than that with the Lord.
Perhaps there is that class here tonight. You have believed on
the Lord Jesus Christ, have taken Him by faith as your Saviour,
and now you go to church every Sunday and read your Bible and
pray every day. You do other things that are expected of you
because you are a Christian, but your Christian life is just a
daily routine like that, and if you were asked about your
Christian life you would say: 'Oh, I was saved ten... twenty...
thirty years ago.' There are multitudes of Christians like that!
They form a very large category.
But then there is
this fourth class: those who, like the people who went over
Jordan, are going right through with the Lord to all the fullness
of His purpose. They realize that this Christian life is a
warfare, and, like these people over Jordan, they are going right
on in the warfare until the final victory is won. Are you a
Jericho Christian? Or are you a half-Egypt Christian? Or a half
self-life Christian? Or are you a one hundred percent the Lord's
Christian? Can you say with the Apostle Paul: "One thing I
do... I press on toward the goal unto the prize of the high
calling of God in Christ Jesus"?
The Lord Jesus
said there would be these four kinds of people. He put it into
one of His parables - the parable of the Sower, who went forth to
sow. One part of the seed fell by the wayside and the birds of
the air came and took it away. Another part of the seed fell upon
stony ground, and another part fell amongst thorns. All those
three classes never came to fulfil the purpose of the sower. The
devil did not have very much difficulty with some of them, for he
could just come and snatch away the seed. They were not very
careful about this matter. Then the cares and the affairs of this
life, like thorns and thistles, swallowed up another part. The
business and the pleasures of this world were more important to
those people than the Word of God. Three categories never
realized the purpose, and out of the four categories only one
produced the result that the sower required, and that fourth
class brought forth fruit "some a hundredfold, some sixty
and some thirty". To which class do we belong? Are we
determined that the Great Sower shall have all that He intended
to have? That is Jericho: spiritual fullness, and all that will
satisfy the Lord.